By Hadi Fornaji.
Tripoli, 31 March 2013:
The Russian oil company Tatneft, has announced that it is returning to its operations in Libya, abandoned at the start of the revolution, in a further sign of slowly improving commercial relations between Tripoli and Moscow.
Tatneft, Russia’s sixth largest oil company was also its first to enter Libya in 2006, when it secured acreage in the Ghadames basin in Block 82/4. It also has rights to other blocks in the Ghadames and Sirte basins.
Executives from the company, which says that it had invested some $260 million in its operations here, held meetings with its partner NOC and the oil ministry in January. It seems certain that security as well as a revision of production-sharing agreements were raised by the Russians. However what assurances it was given Tatneft, which is based in the Russian republic of Tartarstan and majority-owned by the local government, is not yet saying.
A year after Tatneft began work in Libya, Moscow’s energy giant Gazprom entered the country. In a 2007 asset swap with BASF, the owner of Wintershall, Gazprom International obtained a 49 percent stake in concessions C96 and C97. In 2010 output from this pair of properties was two million tons of oil and gas condensate and 227 million cubic metres of gas. Gazprom also won a concession in Area 64 in the Ghadames basin where pre-drilling took place in January 2011. In addition it planned in mid-2011 to begin drilling in the offshore site 19, covering over 10,000 square kilometres. During 2009, seismic was shot over around half of the area. However planned first drilling projects were abandoned at the outbreak of the revolution. It is understood that Gazprom has been talking to NOC and the oil ministry but no deal has yet been agreed.
Early in February, a delegation from the Russian rail monopoly RZhD, led by its president Alexander Sultanov was in Tripoli to discuss resuming work on the abandoned $45 billion, 554 km Sirte-Benghazi railway line. Though Russian diplomats spoke of progress, one sticking point appears to remain RZhD’s claim for compensation and damages.